Commercial Hub? Yes, Think Sao Paulo or Milan, but with pockets of resistance...
26.07.2009 - 29.07.2009
Shukrans and Mercis were exhanged instead of bullets
The immigration officer at the airport said "Kardas" (Brother) as he stamped my passport, the customs guy said "Arkadas" (Friend) as he pretended to inspect my declarations form. That's what I call a nice and warm welcome as opposed to the cold "Fuck you" you get in some countries' borders. You know who you are.
Casablanca has a bad reputation for being a commercial hub, that's the tourists' lingo for "boring." As a traveler and not as a tourist, I beg to differ.
What's so boring about visiting a magnificent Mosque rising from the Atlantic shore? So what if over half a billion dollars was spent in construction? (some argue that money would be better spent in fighting poverty) It is true, as is the case with most developing countries, that you do see the slums on the way from the airport but in a city that lacks a landmark, Hassan II mosque gives Casa the bragging rights for having the tallest minaret in the world. Subsequently, more tourist spend a day or two longer at Casa instead flying in and out. So it's a long term strategic move, not a shortsighted tactical one.
Or what's wrong about sipping super sweat mint tea as you watch the locals go by, wearing anything from Hijabs to almost nothing, and djellaba to Harley Davidson jackets.
Or what's so boring about Tagine with prunes and almonds? Brilliant fruit juices with cardamom and flower extracts?
What's not fun about a big old hairy dude scraping your epidermis violently with the bath version of sandpaper in a Hammam (I'll admit, the subsequent pouring of piping hot water is not so fun)
Isn't sweating in the 2nd class train car with locals fun? and discussing Moroccan politics as they refuse to believe I am not Moroccan (as is the case with Spanish in Queens, NY). Gotta love the olive skin. Fits in nicely in most places. Couldn't quite pull it off in Kenya, and Asia's looking pretty bleak too but what the hell.
And the Moroccans. Such passion. I hailed a cab, as I was explaining that I wanted to go to Hammam Ziani with my half ass French, some random dude on the street noticed my distress and sneaked his head in the car and yelled something to the driver in Arabic. The driver started yelling back at him. At some point the facial and hand gestures got so heated, and voices were raised so high that I felt like I should flee the scene to avoid getting caught in a shoot out, or witnessing a murder. But to my surprise, Shukrans and Mercis were exhanged instead of bullets at the end. Turns out the guy was trying to give directions to the Hammam.
So, commercial, crowded, loud, passionate(!) and fast it is. That's what makes it real.